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SECTION IV WRESTLING: SVEC BOASTS TWO CHAMPIONS (2024-02-11)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
BINGHAMTON — Spencer-Van Etten/Candor sent a pair of wrestlers to the top of the podium at the Section IV Division II Wrestling Championships and the Section IV Girls Wrestling Championships at Visions Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday evening.

In the boys tournament, which serves as a state qualifier for the boys, the Eagles’ John Johnston battled past three opponents, including two from Maine-Endwell, to win the title at 170 pounds.

Prior to his accomplishment, Tayah Beach donned her first sectional crown with the girls 126-pound title.

Beach, who placed third in 2022 and second in 2023, pinned Amelia Toomey of Tioga in 3:48 in the championship bout. Toomey challenged Beach early in their clash, but the SVEC sophomore eventually prevailed.

It was Beach’s third fall in three matches, the first two coming in a combined 90 seconds In the quarterfinals, Beach decked Sydney Rosenbloom of Waverly in 58 seconds. The semifinals brought a 32-second pin over the Wolverines’ Brenae Tedesco.

“It means everything,” Beach said of winning the title. “This is all I wanted this year. It was my big goal of the year.”

Her focus is on even greater accomplishments next season.

“I’m hoping for a state title next year,” she said.

Johnston battled through a trio of grueling victories before emerging victorious. He opened the tournament with a 10-6 win over Jaxon Backus from Walton/Delhi. In the semis, he won by 5-2 decision over M-E’s Kazio Jellick. He then faced the Spartans’ Mark Winchell for the top prize and prevailed, 8-6. Johnston was on bottom in the third period, but Winchell was unable to turn him.

Johnston said he came out flat in his first bout of the day, but wasn’t worried about his rematch with Winchell.

“I just rolled with the flow, just stayed with him,” he said.

Last week, Johnston trailed Winchell, 13-5, heading into the final period. Busk instructed him to let Winchell escape. He did, took the M-E grappler down and pinned him.

Those performances, and the efforts of other SVEC competitors, impressed coach Jesse Buck.

“It's awesome, and I feel really great and honored to be a part of that.” hr said. “These kids have been practicing really hard. They've been sticking around after practice, going to extra practices, and we're really becoming a real solid team, as far as wrestling and ability and the comradery with the team. I think that helps out a lot. Everybody's here cheering everybody on, pushing everybody forward and I love to see it.”

SVEC had three other place-winners. Dallas Fanning was the runner-up at Girls 107, while Shane Neal (145) and Caden Ruben (124) took fourth and sixth, respectively, in the D-2 tourney.

Fanning pinned Courtney Castellana from Corning in 3:59 before suffering a fall in 3:22 to Sidney’s Isabella Phelps in the finals.

Neal decisioned Alan Little of Oneonta, 5-3, in the quarterfinals adding to an intense 4-3 victory over the Yellowjacket grappler to win Qualifier B the previous week. He met top-seeded Tyler Roe of Tioga in the semis with Roe winning by fall in 3:18. Neal rebounded with a 6-2 win over Anthony Cardinale of Windsor, but dropped an 8-3 verdict to Abdeen Zaggout of Unatego/Unadilla Valley/Franklin in the third-place bout.

Ruben met Lansing standout Owen Clark in the quarterfinals and lost by pin in 1:17. In the consolation bracket, he wasted little time dispatching Ahmet Zaggout of (Unatego/Unadilla Valley/Franklin, cradling him up for a 36-second fall. Ruben dropped his next two matches to Dryden’s Oscar Brotherton by pin in 22 seconds and to Owego’s Dylan Brace by fall in 2:42 in the third-place tilt.

Jak Smith ended his first varsity season with a pair of losses at 190. He fell to Cam Caskey of Deposit/Hancock by pin in 1:56 and Caden Southard from Edison by fall in 1:59. He displayed moves in both matches which showed that he could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Also competing for the Eagles was Katelynn VanEtten at Girls 235. Also a first-year varsity competitor, she lost by pin to eventual champion Mackenzie Laforest of Waverly in 1:20 and by fall to Elmira’s Mackenzee Davis in 1:38.

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IN PHOTO 1: SVEC’s Tayah Beach (L) and John Johnston. ... PHOTO BY TIM TAYLOR.
...click here for video or photo gallery

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